Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

Not Looking The Part


By Stephanie Ciccarelli

December 27, 2012

Comments (2)

Stage door sign, outdoors set against a bright blue sky, actors' entrance.How often do you actually "look" the part of a voice-over role you are playing?

The microphone captures your voice and not your physical appearance. Isn't that grand?

Voice over artist and speech coach Jill Tarnoff shares about the bliss of voice acting and where your voice can take you in today's VOX Daily.

The Bliss of Voiceover

By Jill Tarnoff

Have I ever mentioned the number one reason why I love voiceover work? It's such sweet relief to not have to look the part.

I mean, there are many parts I want to play that I would never be granted if I had to play it on stage. For instance, think of the wish to be granted the part of a princess. I had a slight chance of being cast of as princess in my younger days. It often depended upon who was standing next to me. If it was a sweet young blonde then I was the godmother. If it was a rounder, plainer gal then I was the princess. However, with the magic of voiceover, I can play them all! I am a princess, glittery godmother, mean old hag, nurturing mom, even a little boy. I can be wearing minimal make-up, jeans and a t-shirt, but when I open my mouth a full cast of characters appears in the imagination of the listener. Heck, I can do that wearing no make-up.

I don't even look the part of my sophisticated corporate narrations. I know I don't because the image in my head of the person speaking looks nothing like me. Her crisp suit, smooth hair and elegant heels are nowhere near the microphone. Her wisdom, authority and grace are pouring into it through my vocal delivery. It's so much fun.

In addition to my voice acting, I am a speech coach. I work with executives to help them sound their part. We usually speak on the phone before we meet. Many times they will mention that I don't look like what they expected. Usually they expected taller and strangely, they often expected blonde. I'm not insulted. I am a petite brunette. Their reaction can be interpreted as the result of a social experiment.

I know we're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but it's a harsh reality in most of the acting world. Fortunately, doesn't affect the voice acting world. That's why I say, "Listen to me." Visit my profile, close your eyes and listen. If you don't see what you want to hear, then describe it to me. I'll create it with my voice. It's bliss.

Jill Tarnoff

©iStockphoto.com/Christopher Steer


    That's a charming blog Jill, and quite funny timing for me. I got a comment today from a Michigan contact: "Looking at your thumbnail picture I thought you were a 20 year old American dude". Well no... I'm English and you can multiply the years by three and a bit.

    If a photo age is ambiguous, isn't that a plus in our biz? And working always from home, why not go for the personalisation even if it might set up expectations.

    Posted by:

      Don't be too sure about not having to look the part; a few years ago I
      was asked by a national client to cast for a series of commercials & I
      chose a 55 year old woman to play the part of a 22 year old housewife because she sounded about 22. I chose a 35 year old woman to play a grandmother because she could sound like a grandmother. When the producer/director came to the studio session and saw the two, she reversed the parts because "they didn't look like the ages she had in mind". I reminded her that the listeners couldn't see them, but she had her mind made up. Consequently, the commercials didn't sound nearly as good as they would've otherwise. I was antsy then about my part; I was about 40, and thay wanted a more "mature" sounding voiceover on the male part...however, they knew how I sounded anyway.

      Posted by:

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